Taiwan’s Coast Guard Ships Add the Name “Taiwan” to Distinguish Them from China’s
Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen has instructed the Coast Guard Administration (CGA) to add the name “Taiwan” to its 200 plus patrol vessels to distinguish them from Chinese vessels and clarify which country they represent.
The work began in January and four coast guard ships have already added the word “Taiwan” on their hulls, above the words “R.O.C. Coast Guard.” Another 225 coast guard vessels will soon follow suit, the CGA said.
Taiwan’s Presidential Office spokesman Xavier Chang said in a Facebook post that about 300,000 international ships sail in waters around Taiwan every year. He added that maritime patrols of nearby countries have become more challenging since China began to enforce its new Coast Guard Law on February 1, 2021, which allows China’s coast guard to use weapons against foreign ships operating in waters claimed by China.
President Tsai Ing-wen instructed the addition of the word “Taiwan” on all CGA vessels as a response to China’s “gray zone tactics” and will provide better distinction to Taiwan’s law enforcement vessels. Mr. Chang said that “the proper identification of Taiwan’s coast guard ships by other countries will allow them to operate more safely.”
FAPA President Minze Chien stated: “We at FAPA wholeheartedly applaud President Tsai’s decision to add the name ‘Taiwan’ to the country’s Coast Guard ships. However, Taiwan should be simply referred to as ‘Taiwan’ and not as ‘Republic of China’ (ROC). The ROC name is confusing, and, therefore, needs to be removed from Taiwan’s Coast Guard ships.”
China’s New and Aggressive “Coast Guard Law” Creates Concern
On February 16, a Chinese Coast Guard vessel armed with a “cannon-like weapon” entered Japanese territorial waters near the China-claimed Senkaku Islands for the first time since China passed a new law that allows Chinese Coast Guard to fire on foreign ships in waters Beijing claims.
The Senkakus, which China calls the Diaoyu Islands, sit in the rich fishing waters of the East China Sea and are believed to be home to vast mineral and gas deposits. Beijing has justified its moves near the islands by calling the waters in the East China Sea its “inherent territory.”
The Japanese government called the latest Chinese intrusions into its territorial waters “regrettable.” “These activities are a violation of international law,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato said at a news conference, adding that Japan had protested to the Chinese side through diplomatic channels.
China has already sent vessels on seven occasions this year into Japan’s territorial waters near the Senkakus. The passage of China’s new Coast Guard Law, which came into force on February 1, has increased fears that tensions in the region could lead to armed conflicts. The new law explicitly allows China’s coast guard to use weapons against foreign vessels seen as illegally entering China-claimed waters and violating China’s sovereignty. 
Earlier, in a telephone call on February 10, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and his Japanese counterpart “expressed concern over increased Chinese assertiveness around the Senkaku Islands following China’s enactment of a new coast guard law.” Secretary Blinken also “reaffirmed that the Senkakus fall within the scope of Article V of the U.S.-Japan security treaty,” referring to the section that commits the two nations to defend each other if either is attacked. 
On February 18, Taiwan’s government also reasserted its sovereignty over the contested Senkakus, which Taiwan calls Diaoyutai Islands. The Taiwanese government called for restraint by all parties as tensions between Japan and China escalate, adding that Taiwan will continue to handle the disputes through peaceful means and protect the fishing rights of Taiwanese fishermen.